AI pushes marketing’s boundaries, but only when humans are part of the equation
For The Drum’s deep dive into AI and web3, Jaywing’s Dr Catherine Kelly argues that all discussions of AI’s utility need to remember the technology’s most essential collaborators: humans.
Discussions about AI can't forget its human component, says Jaywing's Dr Catherine Kelly / Andy Kelly via Unsplash
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in marketing is, rightly, generating a lot of excitement. But there’s still a vast gap between what AI can do and what some enthusiasts dream of in the future.
I’m an early adopter of tech, and a firm believer in the power of science and tech in marketing. I embrace a future in which they further enhance the way we connect with each other, and help brands to understand and connect with their customers.
But there are still some kinks to work out – like Alexa struggling with my Northern accent, or algorithms recommending things that I have no interest in or have recently purchased. Additionally, some new technologies like immersive VR headsets make a lot of people nauseous, while natural language AI apps such as ChatGPT sometimes provide bland, inaccurate or biased information.
While AI has made significant strides in recent years, human intelligence remains crucial in determining how it’s used to drive real-life benefits. Without human input, AI is simply a collection of algorithms and data, which can’t make decisions or understand the context.
For instance, while ChatGPT can quickly generate code or summarize existing copy in an easily readable language, it can’t create genuinely original content, or exercise judgment. This can result in technically correct but shallow content, missing the expertise, nuance and depth that humans bring.
But when humans and AI work together, the outcomes can be extraordinary. Human intelligence can provide the context, creativity, and empathy that AI lacks. Equally, AI, data analytics and machine learning algorithms can provide the ability to process vast amounts of data, offering insights into customer behavior, predicting preferences, and personalizing marketing campaigns.
What AI and humans can do, together
So, where is AI transforming marketing today? AI and marketing experts are leveraging their combined effort to create more effective and efficient campaigns, enabling brands to know customers on a deeper level and communicate with them in ways tailored to their preferences and behavior patterns.
Recent studies have demonstrated the financial benefits of precision targeting and activation. BCG found that using data and analytics to inform marketing decisions can increase ROI by 15-20%, and Forrester research found that personalized messages can increase conversion rates by up to 30%.
With the ability to better connect with customers and reap the financial benefit, what brand wouldn’t want to reach customers based on their personal preferences and engage with them based on their interests and what they’re most likely to purchase? Not to mention the ability to find prospects that look and behave like the highest-value customers. AI makes this possible.
AI-based predictive model builders (like Jaywing’s proprietary technology, Archetype) absorb large volumes of individual customer data, managing high levels of complexity and considering holistic intelligence to accurately predict the likelihood of certain outcomes. The output enables marketers to understand the likelihood of a customer performing a desired behavior among various options; how and when they will do it; and what nudges will get them to do so. This understanding would be impossible without AI. Equally, a human is needed to interpret the output and decide on the best actions to take.
Communications can be sent via the channel the customer is most responsive to, targeting (say) the product they usually buy at that particular time of year, or a product they’ve never bought but are most likely to buy next.
Marketers can even understand how likely the purchase is and deploy an incentive when that likelihood drops away, preserving full value and not discounting products for customers who will buy anyway, while still increasing conversion where it matters the most.
Common features and behaviors that indicate whether a customer will become high-value can be identified, feeding that data into advertising platforms to acquire similar customers. This last step, the transformation of output to action (and value), requires a marketer.
The human is also crucial in building models. Archetype is clever, using deep neural networks – highly advanced mathematics beyond human capabilities. But humans choose the data which is used to train the model and make contextual decisions that the model must adhere to. Humans must add context, like “When modeling a response to price, we never want the model to say that increasing price will increase demand.”
Although a neural network should predict the correct trend most of the time, there’s always a chance that it will misunderstand some context that a human would understand. Collaboration with humans in selecting data and guaranteeing that certain relationships hold increases the accuracy and confidence of the AI output. That AI output can then be made valuable by humans deploying a marketing strategy.
As AI technology advances, expect to see more integration of human expertise and machine learning in marketing. This combination can unlock powerful insights into customer behavior and enable brands to drive more personalized and effective marketing campaigns. With precision targeting and activation, companies can increase their marketing ROI, creating more value for customers and their businesses.
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